12 Do’s and Don’ts for Safer Backyard Barbecuing
Have you officially welcomed barbecue season yet? Whether you’re new to grilling, or expertly soaking cedar planks for a gourmet menu; having a busy social calendar might distract you from putting safety first. That’s why we’ve put together these tips on safer barbecuing, so you can enjoy great food, and company…without having to explain to the local fire and rescue team how your burgers got to be *ahem* extra well-done. Here are our key do’s and don’ts to follow:
🅧 DON’T: BBQ Indoors
If rain threatens, you might feel tempted to move your barbecue into the garage, or even under an overhang. Ignore that urge because this is one of the most dangerous things you can do, especially if you’re using propane. This type of gas builds up quickly and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, or even a deadly explosion.
🅧 DON’T: Use Water to Fight a Grease Fire
Attempting to fight a grease fire with water will only cause the flames to flare even more, potentially spreading the fire. Use a fire extinguisher if you know how, or call 9-1-1 if you’re dealing with an unmanageable fire.
🅧 DON’T: Leave Your Grill Unattended
One of the most important parts of backyard barbecue safety comes down to close monitoring and prevention. Always be near your barbecue and make sure there’s another adult available to standby if you need to take a quick break.
✓ DO: Grill Away From Your House
It doesn’t matter which type of grill you use, it always needs to be as far from your home (or any other structure like a shed, garage, or gazebo) as possible. We recommend placing your barbecue at least 3 metres (10 feet) from your house.
✓ DO: Make sure your BBQ is Clean and Fully Functional
To avoid an accidental fire, make sure grease doesn’t build up. Especially if you’re using your barbecue for the first time this season, be sure to get rid of any residual grease or cobwebs. Dislodge debris with a brush, and a simple vinegar solution. If using a propane or natural gas grill, check that all connections are secure. The following test uses soapy water to easily identify potential hose leaks.
✓ DO: Set-Up On a Level, Non-Wooden Surface
Make sure your grill is stable by setting it on a level, non-flammable surface, like concrete or asphalt–not a wooden deck or table. Stay well clear of any wooden railings, fencing, or low-hanging branches in your yard.
✓ DO: Light Your BBQ with the Cover Open
If you’re grilling with propane or natural gas, keep the barbecue lid raised while lighting it so that the chamber doesn’t fill with gas when you press the igniter. If you don’t heed this advice, the resulting fireball will be memorable, and not in a good way–we trust that you enjoy having eyebrows?
✓ DO: Use Proper Starter Fluid
If you’re using a charcoal grill, always use a proper starter, never gasoline or other flammable liquids. Stand back while lighting, and keep the original container well away from heat, children, and pets. Never add the starter to hot coals.
✓ DO: Wait 15 Minutes Before Re-lighting
If your first attempt to ignite your gas grill doesn’t succeed (or the flame goes out), turn the control valve off, keep the lid open, and wait 15 minutes for the gas to dissipate before trouble-shooting or trying again.
✓ DO: Drink Responsibly
How well will you respond in a sudden emergency? Not so well if you’ve had too many adult beverages. So, while an ice cold beer with barbecued food is a classic combo, keep your alcohol consumption moderate (if at all) so you can make your and your guests’ safety a top priority.
✓ DO: Have a Fire Extinguisher Ready
Always have a fire extinguisher on hand, and know how to use it. If you don’t have one, have a bucket of sand close by. Important: do not use water to try and put out a grease fire. Don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 in an emergency if you need immediate assistance.
✓ DO: Shut Off Propane and Wait for Coals to Cool
When you’re ready to finish grilling, be sure you turn off not just your barbecue, but your propane valve as well. If you’re using coal, make sure the briquettes have cooled before disposing of them in a metal trash can.
We hope these safety and fire prevention tips help you have a safe (and delicious!) summer. Happy barbecuing!